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It has become clear to most Poles that Poland is already in the midst of a crisis. The most affected at the moment are Poles with loans in banks, but they are quickly being joined by many other categories and social strata. The most difficult period is expected only in a few months.
As the effects of the financial-economic and fiscal programs to cushion the economic crisis launched by the Polish government since the beginning of the year have lost their strength, coupled with the drastic increase in the price of energy sources due to the war in Ukraine and the aggregate effect on the entire economy , Poles began to really feel the crisis in all spheres of life. According to RFI, the turning point can be considered the month of June, when inflation reached levels not seen for almost three decades, i.e. 15.5%.
The same level of inflation was maintained in July, and some Polish experts claim that Poland has reached the ceiling and in the next few months a relative stabilization of the negative trend will be established. But we have to keep in mind that we are still in the middle of the holidays, and the real price increases will start in the fall. With the next wave of price increases will be added the expenses related to the cold season, that is, the expenses of ordinary Poles for heating and energy will exacerbate the effect of the crisis, and the payment of rents for millions of Poles from the most vulnerable categories could be felt as a blow of grace that will plunge them into the darkness of poverty, from which they may have emerged a decade or more ago.
Therefore, the stabilization of the crisis does not mean that the economic situation of the Poles is heading for recovery. One of the very real scenarios may still be recession, even though both the National Bank of Poland and the World Bank are forecasting economic growth in Poland of more than 5% this year. Economic growth, however, should not be correlated with the uniform distribution of well-being, against the background of the galloping price increases of the last year, price increases which continued to decrease the purchasing power of Poles, coupled with multiple effects on the economic lifestyle. In other words, the statistically average Pole started saving like in the nineties and, for those who still remember, maybe even like during the “PRL” (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa), i.e. communist Poland.
According to many Polish economists, in the last year the standard of living for Poles has become more expensive on average by more than 35% percent, causing the economic and social vulnerability of many categories and social strata. Visibly affected would be up to 40% of the population. Obviously, the most affected are those strata that got into debt during the last decade, that is, those aged 25-45 in particular.
The star sector towards which the lending was directed is the real estate sector. If in October 2021, the interest rate regulated by the National Bank of Poland was raised from 0.1% to 0.5%, then by July 2022 it reached 5.5%, and the president of BNP, Adam Glapiński, hinted that this rate would could increase even more in the coming months. Obviously, the interest rates paid by Poles are increasing even more, and loans for the vast majority of Poles are now becoming prohibitive. And one of the immediate effects is even greater pressure on the real estate sector, which is already in a quasi-blockade due to the flow of refugees from Ukraine.
Starting in May, the Morawiecki government is offering an extensive program of loan payment exemptions for periods of up to eight months over the next three years. According to this programme, credit pressure is expected to be eased at will when the crisis reaches its peak, probably in the second half of this year, i.e. in autumn and winter. But at the same time this program of exemption from the payment of interest payments will extend in the long term the lending of millions of Poles who are already overwhelmed by these loans, and no one can guarantee these payers that in 2023 or later the crisis will not degenerate into recession. The group targeted by this measure of the Polish government is estimated to be around 2.5 million Poles, mainly between the ages of 25 and 50. To these are obviously added other vulnerable groups, especially students, young people at the beginning of their professional life, families of five or more members, single mothers, certain categories of pensioners and even couples without children, but with large loans still negotiated before the pandemic.
Estimates show that up to 20% of Poland’s population is already directly affected by the credit bubble, and a similar percentage falls into the gray area of vulnerable blankets. The Poles who never got out of poverty, i.e. another 20%, not even until the economic crisis, are not even mentioned at this moment. Their impoverishment will increase even more. It is thus estimated that more than half of the Poles will face the hardest period in the last decades in the coming months.